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Africa should fund its own security operations with regional blocs dealing with growing threats of terrorism and cross-border crime, rather than rely on external forces funding and fuelling conflict on the continent for their neo-colonial interests, President Mnangagwa said yesterday during an extraordinary African Union summit on ending conflict on the continent.
Addressing the 14th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government held under the theme “Silencing the Guns”, the President pushed hard for more African self-reliance, development and self-help.
“It is critical that we reduce reliance on external funding and enhance the AU’s capacity to independently execute its security-related operations. In addition, our regional blocs should be encouraged to swiftly deal with the growing threats of terrorism and other cross-border criminal activities,” said President Mnangagwa.
African countries need to continue strengthening national institutions and processes to entrench democracy, constitutionalism, good governance, rule of law and the prevention of conflict and insecurity among people.
“Poverty alleviation, food and nutrition security, economic empowerment and equitable development which leave no one behind within our jurisdictions, will also go a long way towards sustainable peace, security, unity and development,” said President Mnangagwa.
The Assembly, held virtually, brought together Heads of State and Government in Africa to brainstorm efforts to end conflict and review previous efforts that were made to date to achieve peace on the continent.
“Let us remain wary of external forces who continue to fund and fuel conflicts and disharmony on the continent for their own neo-colonial interests. Informed by our rich history and liberation heritage, the time has come for Africa to more consciously defend our right to self-determination and the unfettered exploitation, development and use of our God-given natural resources,” said President Mnangagwa.
The African Peace and Security Architecture and the revived continental Peace Fund should be effectively deployed for Africa to realise its goals.
He commended the AU Committee of Ten of the Reform of the Security Council led by Sierra Leone President Julias Maada Bio for its sterling efforts to advance the Ezulwini Consensus and urge the Committee to stand by the African position.
“The continued denial of the fundamental right to self determination for the people of Western Sahara is a threat to peace and security of the Government. We urge the AU as well as the United Nations to assert their roles and silence the guns in Western Sahara and end the untold suffering of the Saharawi people,” said President Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe joined other countries in supporting and welcoming the proposal to extend the tenure of the implementation of the African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa (2021-2030).
President Mnangagwa also commended AU representatives led by Lesotho Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro charged with exploring efforts to end conflict in Africa particularly in Western Sahara for tabling an elaborate report before the summit.
“The report demonstrates notable progress. However, there is continued insecurity, instability, disunity and disruption of the economics of our continent. As we review our efforts to silencing the guns, realistic, practical and responsive interventions have be essential,” he said.
In his opening remarks, AU Chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was critical that Africa resolves conflicts so as to avoid bequeathing conflict burdens to the next generation.
“As we gather here we all know that guns are not yet silent on our continent. In some areas, peace has been achieved but considerable challenges still confront us. There are shortcomings in implementation that must be addressed urgently,” said President Ramaphosa.
During deliberation, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo said there was need to include in the resolutions, the issue of unilateral sanctions as one of the threats caused by foreign interference.
He said there was need to have a clear criteria on what might constitute issues like “crisis” in a given situation so as to avoid a different interpretation on a single development.
“Just recently there was a perception that there was a crisis in Zimbabwe when there was none,” said Minister Moyo.
There was intensive debate on the stand-off between Western Sahara and Morocco where the former wants to assert its independence from the latter.
In his closing remarks, President Ramaphosa underscored the link between peace, human security and development.
“We have highlighted the tragic paradox of a rich Africa inhabited by poor Africans. Africa has the youngest population in the world but our young people are held back by violence, conflict, poverty and lack of opportunity in the use of their incredible talents and ingenuity. Unless we harness their potential they might become increasingly susceptible to recruitment into armed conflict and terrorism,” said President Ramaphosa.